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Zambia


International Religious Freedom Report 2002
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
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The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice.

There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom during the period covered by this report, and government policy continued to contribute to the generally free practice of religion.

The generally amicable relationship among religions in society contributed to religious freedom.

The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government in the context of its overall dialog and policy of promoting human rights.

Section I. Religious Demography

The country has a total area of 290,586 square miles, and its estimated population is 10,285,631. Approximately 85 percent of the population is Christian; 5 percent is Muslim; 5 percent adhere to other faiths, including Hinduism and the Baha'i Faith; and 5 percent is atheist.

The Christian faith was introduced by foreign missionary groups in the 1890's. The majority of indigenous persons, spread throughout the country, either are Roman Catholic or Protestant. In recent years, there has been an upsurge of new Pentecostal churches, commonly known as the "born again" churches, which have attracted many young persons into their ranks.

Muslims are concentrated in certain parts of the country where citizens of Asian origin have settled along the railroad line from Lusaka to Livingstone, in Chipata, and in the eastern province. Most citizens of Asian origin are Muslims, although Hindus constitute a small percentage. A limited number of indigenous persons also are Muslim.

Foreign missionary groups operate in the country and include the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, and the Church of God.

Section II. Status of Religious Freedom

Legal/Policy Framework

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice.

Although a 1996 amendment to the Constitution declared the country a Christian nation, while providing for freedom of religion in practice, the Government generally respects the right of all faiths to worship freely.

There are governmental controls that require the registration of religious groups. The Government approves all applications for registration from religious groups without discrimination. There were no reports that the Government rejected any religious groups that attempted to register or obtain licenses.

There were no reports that foreign missionary groups faced any special requirements or restrictions.

The Government permits religious instruction in public schools. Such instruction is conducted in the dominant Christian religion; however, it is not mandatory and students may be excused from it. Religious instruction in Islam and other faiths is conducted in private schools owned and controlled by those faiths.

Some religious organizations operate radio stations and television networks. Prior to the presidential elections in December 2001, Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), a Christian television network, agreed to air taped debates among presidential candidates. The Ministry of Information threatened to revoke TBN's license if it broadcast the debates, claiming that TBN's license did not permit it to air nonreligious programming. The court subsequently determined that because TBN made a contractual commitment to air the debates, it was obligated to adhere to that contract. TBN aired the debates, and the Ministry of Information took no subsequent action against the network.

Restrictions on Religious Freedom

The Oasis Forum, composed of the Zambia Episcopal Conference, the Christian Council of Zambia, and the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia, continued to be active during the period covered by this report. In the past, it was criticized by individuals, including some members of the Government, for publicly opposing efforts to amend the Constitution to enable the President to seek a third term of office; however, there were no reports that members of the Government criticized the Forum during the period covered by this report. In spite of the criticism of these churches for taking a stand on a political issue, they were able to organize activities freely to mobilize public opinion regarding the third-term issue and are engaged actively in efforts to promote comprehensive constitutional reform.

There were no reports of religious prisoners or detainees.

Forced Religious Conversion

There were no reports of forced religious conversion, including of minor U.S. citizens who had been abducted or illegally removed from the United States, or of the refusal to allow such citizens to be returned to the United States.

Section III. Societal Attitudes

The generally amicable relationship among religions in society contributed to religious freedom.

Leaders of various ecumenical movements, such as the Zambia Episcopal Conference, the Christian Council of Zambia, and the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia, hold regular meetings to promote mutual understanding and interfaith dialog, and to discuss national issues.

Section IV. U.S. Government Policy

The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government in the context of its overall dialog and policy of promoting human rights.



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